I'm travelling into a new way of working, a new country, a new language, and a new hobby which I'm passionate about. Come with me for some of the journey...

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Sunday Morning in Central Park

Hello all!  Well, the reason for all these Encore posts lately is that I'm travelling for work again, and I feel so lucky to be back in New York.  We're in the midst of a flurry of new creations at the moment - I hope you caught my Fossil Fish over at PaperArtsy - so I thought I'd throw in some travelling photos while I'm at it too.








I'll fill you in on some of my adventures in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong at some point when I've got a bit more time, and New York will definitely need some more attention (I know, sorry... how lucky am I?!), but I don't want to become a travelogue, so I'll try to space it out over the next couple of months.












For now, I wanted to share the wonderful time I had rambling around Central Park a couple of Sunday mornings ago (it was the 10th April, but I've not had much time for post-writing).  I had to be at the theatre for midday that day, but it was such a glorious spring morning that I couldn't let it go to waste.









I think I mentioned in my 2014 A View of New York post my huge admiration for the vision and ambition shown by the planners of Manhattan's grid in 1811, when the city population was comparatively tiny, and all living just on the southernmost tip of the island.

But, as the plan was put into practice and their brilliantly-conceived grid started to fill up, they realised they hadn't allowed for enough green space, enough democratic space for all New Yorkers to gather, and so they altered their plans.









Some of the gridblocks intended for buildings would instead be preserved as parkland.

Yes, there were some necessary evictions from the sparsely populated area of city-owned land which they selected for their Central Park... 












... but what a statement of intent to take such a vast area of what could have been hugely profitable business or residential land and turn it into a park, with free entry for all.












And what a park!  With such vistas, and beautifully thought-out landscaping...  On top of the huge earth-moving, the lake-digging, and the planting involved, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, whose design won the the 1858 competition, included no fewer than 36 bridges, each one different.













And it's wonderful to be here in springtime too - it's just going to get lovelier over the next couple of weeks...











... though the blossom is already pretty special.  Forgive me, I can't resist a bit of blossom!

  

There's art in the park too - plenty of it.  I was only there for a couple of hours, so saw only the tiniest portion of the whole park and the sculptural treasures it offers, but I delighted in this wonderful bronze of Alice at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party.


You have to grab your photo quickly if you want the sculpture to take centre stage - people like to sit on those mushrooms to have their photos taken.







As well as art and sculpture, there are formal sports areas, softball pitches and tennis courts, restaurants and cafes, paddling ponds and boating lakes (and a model boat lake, look!) as well as a large reservoir (with a 1.58 mile running track around it), bridle paths for horses, miles of trails to walk, playgrounds for children - not to mention the zoo and the famous horse-drawn coaches seen in so many films and television programmes.













Okay, but a park is a park, so what makes this one so special?  Of course part of the excitement is in the juxtaposition of rural and urban - gleaming steel soaring above the trees in places...















... or when some of the more ornate buildings appear from amongst the tree tops...














... the extraordinary architectural fantasies seeming like fairytale castles hidden in the depths of a vast magical forest.












But it's also about the sheer scale of the place (it is 2.5 miles long, and more than half a mile wide, making a more than six-mile perimeter).  As you can see from these photos, even on a sunny spring morning (okay, it was cold!), you can easily escape the crowds if you want to.











And I think what I find particularly special is the fact that, as well as the obviously landscaped vistas, the manicured lawns and well-kept sports grounds, they also tried to create areas to echo the wild, rugged landscape of Manhattan before the city existed.









It's perfectly possible to get properly lost and find yourself in a rural wilderness, especially in the wonderfully rugged Ramble, where the rocky paths and wild scrubland make it hard to comprehend that you are actually in the middle of one of the busiest cities on earth.

Just look and listen to this little video clip... the centre of New York?  Really?!  (I've not tried uploading a video before, so I hope it works for you.)






The Ramble is also one of the most-visited birdwatching sites in the United States, and I saw some amazing birds - a Northern Cardinal who sat and sang to me for a while (here's my very poor photo of him, but all Tim Holtz fans know what a cardinal looks like!); a startlingly electric blue Blue Jay with flashes of white; some beautiful dark birds whose heads gleamed blue-green in the sunlight (it seems they must have been Common Grackles, but there's nothing common about them in real life, I promise you).







There are lots and lots of these orange-chested American Robins, busy with their springtime courtships.  And there was also what I think was a Bay-breasted Warbler - though there are several yellowish warblers, so it could have been one of the others.   I'm no expert, by the way... I looked them all up afterwards on this fantastic photo database of Central Park Birds.  I can see I shall have to go back to spot some more!










Because they deal with such a lot of people, the birds are mostly pretty unperturbed at the approach of a human, so they'll sit still and stay put so that you can get much closer than you might expect.  The same goes for the squirrels, of course, who - if you so much as chirrup at them - will come over to see if you've any food on offer!









And, for me, probably the biggest draw of all is that there are some simply magnificent trees...


I hope you've enjoyed this tour of just a small part of Central Park.  The weather is being very typically April at the moment, but if we get some more fine days, I will definitely be spending some more time there.  I hope that by the time I come home at the beginning of May the trees will be turning a bit greener - that vivid fresh green of early spring leaves is one of my favourite things in the world.

As I said, there are a couple more new projects on their way here at Words and Pictures, but for now I'll wish you happy crafting and see you soon!

I have all my life been considering distant effects and sacrificing immediate success and applause to that of the future.  In laying out Central Park we determined to think of no result to be realised in less than forty years.
Frederick Law Olmsted (one of the two designers of Central Park)

The great white pear tree dropped with dew from leaves
And blossom, under heavens of happy blue.
From Songs with Preludes by Jean Ingelow

46 comments:

carol edwards said...

Absolutely stunning. Thank you for all the beautiful pictures and information, loved it x

Helen said...

oh I'm so pleased you published these photos - makes me want to visit NOW! the trees are in full blossom here too and I caught loads on Saturday but without the sunshine!! Looking forward to your other travelogues - don't leave it too long!

brenda said...

Lovely reminders of Central Park Alison, it's been a few years for me and never in the Spring.

B x

Almo said...

I really enjoyed reading this post Alison, I have never been to New York so it was lovely to see your photos and video (lovely birdsong)of Central Park. Mo x

Astrid Maclean said...

What a wonderful tour of Central Park with a little history lesson thrown in too... Great photos that really capture CP in Spring. The little video with the bird song in the background was lovely too. I am deeply jealous!!! Though, for once the sky is blue here too and the blossoms are just starting to come out... Enjoy the rest of your time there and I look forward to more updates!

Amanda said...

Loved that post, really need to get there.
Have a fab time even though I know you are working.
Love
Amanda x

hazel said...

What a beautiful park, thank you for sharing the photos.
Xxx Hazel.

Lauren Hatwell said...

Stunning photographs Alison. So glad you are finding some time in your busy schedule to see the sights. Thanks so much for sharing. Lx

Andrea Small said...

Oh! Oh! OH!
xx

Paper Profusion said...

What a treat your post is to start my day with Alison. Thank-you so much for sharing. Brings back memories. The little video was a delight so you'll have to feed us with more!! So pleased for you to be enjoying it. Nicola x

craftytrog said...

Thanks for a wonderful trip around the park Alison! Very interesting, and great photos! Enjoy! xxx

Hazel Agnew said...

Very uplifting post Alison...loving the majestic trees too! Xx

Cestina said...

Maybe you should start a travel blog? You have the skill to make us feel there with you...sheer delight.

The sailing boats reminded me with joy of numéro quatre, the boat I always chose on the pond in the Jardin des Tuileries when I was four years old...
xx

Cestina said...

And oh the mushrooms!!!!
xx

Julia Aston said...

Gorgeous photos Alison - I feel like I've just walked through the park myself! I'm glad you are managing to fit in a few excursions on your busy round the world trip! Julia xx

Sara Barker said...

Alison, your photos of the park and surrounding buildings, as well as your video clip are delightful! It looks like you had some gorgeous weather!

I've been to the city many, many times, but I've never seen Central Park, so what a treat this was! Hugs!

Nan G said...

Wow, aren't you the gad-about this year...China and now NYC! Lovely tour of Central Park. Thank you. I hope you get to stop and catch your breath once you're home in May. And......HAPPY BIRTHDAY, early!

Terry said...

It sure looks like you are having a grand time in NYC! What a gorgeous park and your photos are amazing. I was born in Upstate NY and lived there for many years and never made it to the city! We just left Wisconsin and it had snowed and will return in two weeks. I love the change of seasons! Well enjoy the rest of your stay and soon I also hope to be back into the crafty world! Hugs!

Marci said...

Cestina is right! You have the ability to make us feel as if we are there in the park. I love the Cardinals, I think their song sounds like "pretty pretty pretty". Lovely video and lots of nice information, too. Enjoy your stay in New York, I love your Travel Posts, so look forward to more.

chrissie said...

So good to this wonderful post Alison and to see the terrific photographs. You deserve to see all the wonders and it so kind to share them with us

Love Chrissie xx

Anita Houston said...

For you to go all over the world, must be a testimony to how wonderful you are at your job, and how much you are needed! Glad you are back in the US...come to Texas!!! Gorgeous photos!

Sandy said...

Oh my word Alison - you are lucky but I know you earn your keep. How wise of you to have chosen your profession and I know you must be good - like real good! Please, please post some of your pictures of China. I would really like to go there. So many of my friends post pictures of where they live and where they vacation. I love to see the sites. Especially when there is a personal touch to them.
I am always thrilled to have you visit my blog - thank you!
Sandy xx






Jane said...

Thanks for sharing this Alison. Our last visit was in the February of 2003....with a foot of snow. It was winter wonderland but I would love to see it in spring. Beautiful photos x

Corrie Herriman said...

Looks beautiful ! So was your fossil fish ! Hope you are enjoying your time in the big Apple, even if you are there for work !
Corrie x

Redanne said...

Oh, what a wonderful post Alison! I loved taking a mini tour of the park with you! The Alice sculpture is fantastic and I love the little lake, what fun! You may be lucky but I know you work incredibly hard, so you deserve to see all these wonderful places. I am already looking forward to seeing more.

Aren't the Robins amazing? When I first saw a Robin over here I thought it was a baby - and I really miss seeing the gorgeous Cardinals and Blue Jays. Anne xx

rachel said...

absolutely beautiful post Alison - oh how lucky you are indeed - beautiful photos - I love the blossom - so very special indeed. Lots of love Rachel x

Meggymay said...

Oh my, thank you for sharing these wonderful photos, it is a very beautiful park. Love the blossoms and the scenes you have shown us. look forward to seeing more of you travels in future.
Yvonne xx

JoZart Quilts said...

I really loved seeing your photos and I wanted to to tell you a story about Central Park. Birkenhead Park (just over the River Mersey from Liverpool) was designed by Joseph Paxton, who also designed the Crystal Palace in London. Olmstead came across from New York to by boat from New York and was really impressed with Birkenhead Park, which was the first ever free public park. On his return he won a competition to design a park in New York, which of course he won and he used Paxton's ideas and plans.
I thought you would by interested in the link.
Jo x

Coco said...

What a lovely post, thank you for sharing all these beautiful photos of the Central Park in New York! I never went to US, but I guess that there are some places really fantastic to look at and visit... This one seems to be one of them, so it's great for me to see that even if I cannot go myself. Thank you Alison... Enjoy your remaining days in New York! Hugs Coco xx

craftimamma said...

Thank you for such a wonderful post Alison! Very interesting and the photos are stunning. Thanks again for taking time to share.

Hugs
Lesley Xx

sally said...

Though I'm no " big city" girl this looks an amazing place to visit Alison! I enjoyed my time on the common in Boston so I'm well aware of how nosy the grey squirrels can be but I do prefer our red ones here in Scotland - I had the pleasure of seeing a red cardinal once whilst at my stepdaughters but camera & phone were both on charge :-( the blue jays are pretty too though. Enjoy the rest of your travels....

Sally x

Pamellia Johnson said...

I love your artwork Alison, but this might be one of my favourite non-art posts EVER!! What a beautiful set of photos!! Those are all of the same birds that perch outside of my window, isn't is just a remarkable world!! Thanks so much for taking on your walks with you! hugs :)

Heather said...

What beautiful photographs Alison, especially the super with the adorable the bronze images and cute bird and sqirrel!! I never noticed those in central park!!

hugs
Heather xx

pearshapedcrafting said...

Oh! I am so jealous -seeing those gorgeous birds sounds like a real treat! Thank you for sharing your walk around Central Park and for the background story of the park! Hugs, Chrisx

Etsuko Noguchi said...

What a beautiful pics Alison! I never been to USA even Central Park but always I remember Robin Williams's 'The Fisher King' movie scene. Thank you for you share of the photos. Have a nice day. xx

Lisa S. said...

Gorgeous photos Alison, TFS! Have fun in NYC and post when you can. :)

Nikki Acton said...

Hello Alison... Just love spring in the northern hemisphere. What wonderful photos from Central Park. Beautiful day here yesterday and walked into town through the parks of Basingstoke and the bluebells were gorgeous! Enjoy your work and travels xx

Neet said...

Not visited in simply ages but so glad I saw your masculine piece (future post) as it brought me to look at your Central Park photographs. What fabulous ones they are and I just love the Alice picture. That would have been a real highlight for me on my walk.
Thanks for sharing.
Hugs, Neet xx

Fliss said...

Wow wow wow! What fabulous photos Alison and you're so lucky to be doing all that travelling to such amazing places.
Thanks for sharing your beautiful pics and looking forward to more.
Fliss xx

Lynn Price said...

Fabulous post, Alison - I live only an hour or so away, but rarely get there..... this was a real treat to see it in the Spring, with all those lovely flowering trees! Hope the rest of your trip is equally inspiring - some day I hope to learn what you do at the theatre during production! Safe travels whenever that may be - xxx Lynn

Dorthe said...

Thank you Alison, for taking os a tour through Central Park , and all the beauty there. It must be a facinating experience, to be there, knowing the noicy ,stressy and byssy town, is living just outside.
The trees are blooming beautifully, and that statue is amazing , I loved the tour, dear.
Hug, Dorthe

maria's knutselplezier said...

Wow, what a greamt impression of Central PARK, I never was there but perhaps one day!!?? I can imagine that you enjoyed your stay!!!

Have fun
Maria

Lys Scrap said...

A lovely post, Alison, with gorgeous photos and a delightful tour in Central Park. Enjoy your stay!

Jackie P Neal said...

Alison, your writing and description of Central Park is just brilliant! I have only seen a small portion of it when I was visiting my nephew.
Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and positive description of what others see in such a negative way!
You made my heart swell with pride being a New Yorker!(even if I am Upstate!!) xx

Sue said...

Wow what amazing photographs, I hope you are enjoying your last few day there xx

Julie Ann Lee said...

Fascinating, Alison. I was recently reading a novel in which the old New York, so close to the wilds featured and your descriptions of the 'Ramble' and the bird life along with the photos really evoked that. What a great adventure you are having! Enjoy! xx